MMus Ethnomusicology

SOAS University of London

Program Description

MMus Ethnomusicology

SOAS University of London

MMus Ethnomusicology

Duration: One calendar year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)

Minimum Entry Requirements: Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent), usually in Music

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full Time or Part Time

Theoretical and practical grounding in the discipline of ethnomusicology, as well as the opportunity to develop performance and ethnographic skills, regional expertise, and a deeper understanding of global music – just some of what you can expect to develop on the MMus Ethnomusicology. This programme is tailored for musicians and musicologists, anthropologists, teachers and composers, as well as those dedicated to developing an in-depth knowledge of a specific music tradition.

You will study with the largest and most influential team of ethnomusicologists in the UK, who are experts in the musical traditions of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia and the Jewish world. You will be part of a thriving culture of performance, research and active engagement with music around the globe.

The programme will suit those looking for a springboard into further research or employment in a range of music-related fields including journalism, industry, NGOs and education, and often serves as a conversion route for those trained predominantly in western music traditions.


The MMus programme involves taking three courses and writing a 11,000-word dissertation. In addition to these formal elements, students are expected to attend regular postgraduate and public seminars and may also participate in performance ensemble classes and other activities.

Course Detail

The four formal elements of the MMus Ethnomusicology programme are:

  • The full unit core course Ethnomusicology in Practice.
  • A broad introduction to the major themes of ethnomusicological study. Taught as a weekly two-hour lecture/seminar with additional tutorials. Part-time students must take this in their first year.
  • The Dissertation in Music.
  • A special study 11,000 words in length on a topic agreed with the candidate's supervisor. This will normally relate to the "major region" chosen below, but may instead deal with a theoretical or comparative topic. Part-time students normally take this in their final year.

Select courses to the value of 90 credits from List A,B,C and/or D,including at least one course from list A.

List A: Area Courses

  • Atlantic Africa: (P)Layers of Mediation in African Popular Music (PG) - 15PMUC009 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Aspects of Music and Religion in South East Asia - 15PMUH017 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Central Asian Music - 15PMUH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Ethnicity, Religion and Gender in Middle Eastern Musical cultures - 15PMUH024 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Indian vocal music: Styles and histories - 15PMUH025 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Klezmer Music: Roots and Revival - 15PMUH011 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Music in Selected Regions of Africa: Contexts and Structures - 15PMUC006 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Music, Place and Politics in Cuba - 15PMUH015 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Musical Traditions of East Asia (Masters) - 15PMUH016 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters) - 15PMUH014 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Popular and Fusion Music in South East Asia (PG) - 15PMUH018 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Sacred Sound in South Asia - 15PMUH021 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1

List B: Additional Music Courses

  • African and Asian Cultures in Britain - 15PANH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • African and Asian Diasporas in the Modern World - 15PANH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • Analysing World Music: Transcription & Analysis in Ethnomusicology - 15PMUH004 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
  • Composition - 15PMUH013 (0.5 Unit) - Full Year
  • Digital traditional broadcasting communication - 15PMSH022 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Gender and Music (MMus) - 15PMUH009 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Music and Healing - 15PMUH019 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2016/2017
  • Music in Development - 15PMUC034 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Performance - 15PMUC002 (1 Unit) - Full Year
  • Sound Recording and Production - 15PMSH025 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
  • The Music Business (Masters) - 15PMUH003 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2

List C: Courses at King's College

Students may also take up to a maximum of 45 credit units from King's College Department of Music (see this link for available options: https: // . Special assessment rules apply for SOAS students taking King’s College courses to bring the credit rating of each course up to 45 credits. Please check with course tutors at King’s for specific requirements. Course choices will vary each year, at the time of completing this document, the following courses are available:

  • Advanced Opera Study - (22.5 Unit)
  • Advanced Studies in Musical Analysis & Criticism: Beethoven's Late Works - (22.5 Unit)
  • Issues in Biography and Criticism - (22.5 Unit)
  • Issues in Historiography and Criticism - (22.5 Unit)
  • Performance, Gesture and Meaning - (22.5 Unit)
  • Post-tonal Music and Composition Theory - (22.5 Unit)
  • Theories of Modernism and the Avant-Garde - (22.5 Unit)
  • 21st-Century Bach - (22.5 Unit)

List D:

Courses at SOAS from other departments in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities or MA Area Studies courses (including languages) in the Faculty of Languages and Cultures. Course choices are subject to the agreement of both the course convenor and the MMus Ethnomusicology convenor. Courses will normally relate to the same geographical region chosen from List A course(s).

Teaching & Learning

The Department of Music has been highly rated for teaching and research in all recent assessment exercises, and is regularly ranked amongst the top Music departments in the UK in Good University Guides.

Music students have access to the large Main Library of the School which holds numerous books, journals and recordings relevant to the study of ethnomusicology and world music, as well as the nearby British Library Sound Archive and other London libraries and museums.

The SOAS Library holds copies of standard reference works on music, such as the current edition of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The Grove dictionary and the RILM database can also be accessed on line from computer terminals in the Library or elsewhere on the SOAS network. Listening facilities are provided in the Library, and most CDs are available on short loan. Among special items in the Department’s collections are:

  • field recordings, films and slides
  • a large working collection of musical instruments from Asia and Africa
  • extensive staff collections relating to specific research interests


A postgraduate degree in Ethnomusicology from SOAS gives students greater intercultural awareness, improved competency in performance and a better understanding of global music which will enable them to continue in the field of research or engage in related work. Equally, they develop a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and creative capacities including interpersonal skills, communication skills, focus, team work, passion and dedication. A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

  • Internet Advertising Board
  • Marie Stopes International
  • Association of Culture & World Music
  • School of Traditional & Popular Music
  • Vortex Jazz Club
  • Sony/EMI
  • S24 Film
  • British Library
  • Grant & Cutler
  • British Library
  • UK Government
  • Warner Music

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

  • Production Assistant
  • Sound Archive assistant
  • Bookseller
  • Solicitor
  • Finance Manager
  • Manager of Musical Association
  • Junior Research Executive
  • Project support officer
  • Policy adviser
  • Playworker
  • Library Assistant
  • Local Councillor

A Student's Perspective

"SOAS is a great place to study Ethnomusicology. It has the flavour of the world spread through the music made by the students, lecturers and guests."

Marina Di Giorgi

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated September 28, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
1 - 3 years
Part time
Full time
United Kingdom - London, England
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
United Kingdom - London, England
Application deadline Request Info
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